Everything was on schedule. The road ahead looked free and clear of traffic, which meant I would arrive at my destination 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
Perfect, I thought. All my ducks are in a row.
But just 15 minutes into the trip, as I was cruising down the interstate, my gas light launched a tirade of flickering taunts: “10 miles left in range.” Seriously? How did I overlook this simple necessity? How did I forget such a routine check? So my fuel supply was dwindling, but it was OK because I knew I’d be able to exit five miles ahead. That is, until I was stopped in my tracks (quite literally) by a nasty fender bender a quarter of a mile further down the road.
Enter the cold sweats.
My well-intentioned momentum was crushed, because I was running out of gas.
Just like life.
How many of us are running fast and hard on life’s highway toward the completion of a personal goal, the fulfillment of a dream or the closing of a significant business deal and find ourselves suddenly drowning in discouragement and a lack of motivation because our “tank”—our inner resolve, heart and soul—is on empty? How many of us reach 80 percent capacity yet lack the ability to push through the final 20 percent to cross the finish line? How many of us experience a siphoning of enthusiasm when unexpected obstacles and detours impede our path?
I’ll be the first to raise my hand.
As for me, I’ve certainly let my presumptions take the steering wheel on more than one occasion, only to have stalled out, faced with discouragement, disempowerment and a disheartened outlook on life before reaching my intended destination. Inevitably, we will all face discouragement and lack of motivation at some point in life. But just because our tank is low doesn’t mean we have to stop completely before reaching our destination. If the dream in your heart and passion for life needs roadside assistance, allow me to throw you a lifeline that will get your tank filled-up and get you back on the path to success….
You’re not invincible.
The first step is actually proactive, and that is to recognize that if you don’t monitor your “tank” (your internal drive) on a regular basis, you’ll find yourself in a precarious situation when you have a destination in sight but no energy, creativity, motivation or discipline to get there. My friend, don’t kid yourself: You’re not invincible and inexhaustible. Everyone’s tank may be of a different capacity, but it doesn’t mean it’s bottomless.
Practically speaking, are you well rested? Are you taking care of your mental and emotional health? Are you taking deliberate action to schedule recreation so that your creativity and work ethic can be replenished? Being proactive about this step is crucial because “refueling” when you’re running on fumes costs time and efficiency. And the only way to do so is by exiting and stopping.
Even if you haven’t been deliberate in keeping your tank filled along the way, hope is not lost. Over the last two years, I have witnessed incredible results as I have employed the following strategy—the three E’s—with clients, friends and myself:
Legendary author Stephen King said, “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” The path you’ve chosen is not coincidence. Something within motivated you to initiate your journey. But just because you’re facing adversity doesn’t mean you should not press on. Passion alone isn’t enough, nor is talent. Willpower isn’t enough, either. But a person whose passion and talent collides with a “can-do” attitude and a commitment to be closer crosses the finish line.
Recall your past wins. Get into the moment again. Recollect your greatest victories and remind yourself that if you’ve done it before, you will do it again.
Get your “why” back. It’s easy to lose your sense of purpose in what you do when you lose sight of why you are doing it in the first place. Late last year, I was involved in a project that required a broadened range of my skill set. Aspects of the work were monotonous, but from the onset, it was my intention to improve the efficiency of a few key systems therein and execute with excellence. Three weeks into the project, however, I faced an internal challenge: Would I give-in to the monotony and settle into a slow-simmer of task fulfillment, or would I rise above the temptation and add value to people who could truly benefit from me on a broader scale than what I initially set out to do? The answer was found in asking myself a few important questions:
• Why am I really here?
• How can I be a contributor beyond the task at hand?
• Whose life can I positively impact?
That simple exercise engendered clarity and focus, and I got my “why” back. What I learned is that there will always be an opportunity to find treasure, even in the mundane, if you look for it.
No life will ever be problem-free, but staying “filled-up” will equip you to stay the course when others less-prepared than you are waving from the side of the road.
Christopher Cook is a SUCCESS BlogStars winner, nominated and voted upon as one of the most influential self-development writers and bloggers.